Valdez is located on the north shore of
Port Valdez, a deep water fjord in Prince William Sound. It lies 305
road miles east of Anchorage, and 364 road miles south of Fairbanks. It
is the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline. It lies at
approximately 61░ 07' N Latitude, 146░ 16' W Longitude (Sec. 32, T008S,
R006W, Copper River Meridian). The community is located in the Valdez
Recording District. The area encompasses 219 sq. miles of land and 55
sq. miles of water.
Port of Valdez was named in 1790 by Don Salvador Fidalgo for the
celebrated Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdes y Basan. Due to its
excellent ice-free port, a town developed in 1898 as a debarkation point
for men seeking a route to the Eagle Mining District and the Klondike
gold fields. Valdez soon became the supply center of its own gold mining
region, and incorporated as a City in 1901. Fort Liscum was established
in 1900, and a sled and wagon road was constructed to Fort Egbert in
Eagle by the U.S. Army. The Alaska Road Commission further developed the
road for automobile travel to Fairbanks; it was completed by the early
Tsunamis generated by the 1964 earthquake destroyed the original
City, killing several residents. The community was rebuilt in a more
sheltered location 4 miles to the west. During the 1970s, construction
of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline terminal and other cargo transportation
facilities brought rapid growth to Valdez. In March 1989, it was the
center for the massive oil-spill cleanup after the "Exxon Valdez"
disaster. In a few short days, the population of the town tripled.